Heavy Load

Metal Conquest

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Three years after their flawed but unquestionably pioneering debut album, Full Speed at High Level, placed Sweden on the heavy metal world map, Heavy Load finally resurfaced with 1981's Metal Conquest EP, ready to try and make good on their late-'70s faux pas by conquering in the new decade stretched out before them. The first order of business was to abandon all vestiges of progressive rock excess and post-hippie confusion that had occasionally reared their heads in the past, and embrace the more straightforward and concise template established, as of late, by the all-influencing New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The fact that Heavy Load frequently embraced those precepts with the most obvious songwriting clich├ęs and unselfconscious innocence (see "You've Got the Power" and "Heavy Metal Heaven") only contributed to their eventual dismissal as Sweden's real, living version of Spinal Tap, but most people forget how common those genre devices were at the start of the 1980s. And in all fairness to Heavy Load, their newest tribute to their Viking forefathers, "Heathens from the North," should have been praised as somewhat visionary, given the droves of Scandinavian metal groups that would later devote their careers to worshipping at the same heathen altar. But perhaps the most important development found on the Metal Conquest EP was the band's expansion from trio to quartet; as founding brothers Ragne (vocals/guitar) and Stybjorn Wahlquist (drums/vocals) replaced original member Dan Molen with new bassist Torbjorn Ragnesjo and added a second lead vocalist and guitarist named Eddie Malm, who wound up contributing and singing some of the EP's smartest and catchiest tracks: "Dark Nights" and "Hey." Although their efforts would ultimately gain little traction beyond European borders, Heavy Load seemed at least headed in the right direction as they began working on their second full-length, "Death or Glory," the following year.

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